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Call for urgent £40m investment in careers provision

EngineeringUK has called on the government to use this week’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) as an opportunity to invest £40 million annually in careers provision for students in schools and colleges in England.

Such an investment would enable more young people to understand the opportunities available in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers.

The call for greater investment is part of a wider call put forward by the National Engineering Policy Centre to invest in a long-term STEM education strategy that will enable the UK to deliver on its ambitions around net zero and realise the government’s drive to build back better and ’level up’ across the UK in a post-Covid world.

The government’s net zero strategy - Build Back Greener- has confirmed the need for several thousands of engineers to help the UK move towards a greener economy. But this to happen, the UK will need many more young people from all backgrounds to choose STEM and engineering careers.

The call for additional funding for careers provision was first outlined in EngineeringUK’s recently published report ‘Securing the future’ in response to a survey with careers leaders that highlighted that ‘lack of funding for STEM careers provision’, affecting the ability of schools and colleges to to deliver STEM careers provision.

The report recommended that part of the additional funding for STEM careers provision should be focused on increasing diversity in the sector. Funding is also recommended for a dedicated STEM leader in each careers hub, whose role would be to build schools’ STEM careers capacity by supporting and facilitating joint careers activities with employers, including work experience.

New research by EngineeringUK, yet to be published and based on a survey with STEM secondary school teachers, has confirmed that there is crisis in funding for STEM careers provision in schools and colleges in England.

Beatrice Barleon, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at EngineeringUK, said: “Ensuring that we have the number and diversity of future engineers to achieve the government’s ambitions around net zero and economic growth requires government to develop a well-funded STEM education strategy with careers provision at the heart of it.

“Our recent report ‘Securing the future’ highlighted that careers provision is still underfunded, limiting what schools can offer to young people. This needs to change.

“We want to see the government use the 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review to plug that gap and invest an additional £40 million annually on supporting schools and colleges in England to improve careers provision to enable more young people to understand the opportunities available in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers.

“This small investment in the context of the wider schools’ budget, will ensure that schools have the capacity to fulfil their statutory duties in relation to careers provision in a meaningful way and help inspire the next generation of engineers. This is not only vital for the future of young people and for levelling up, but also for the economic success of this country.”

Neil Tyler

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